Knowing how to use the Italian alphabet is fundamental for those who are learning the language, as it will enable them to write, speak and understand.
The Italian alphabet is a variety of the Latin alphabet used in the Italian language.
It is composed of 21 letters: five vowels and 16 consonants. The vowels are the familiar a-e-i-o-u and the consonants b-c-d-f-g-h-l-m-n-p-q-r-s-t-v-z.
To understand how to use the Italian alphabet, it is also important to know that the letters j-k-w-x-y are only used to write foreign words.
Why do you need to know how to use the Italian alphabet?
You need to know how to use the Italian alphabet mainly to pronounce words correctly. But it also serves to become familiar with the sounds and rules of the Italian language.
Another important aspect is that Italian is a phonetic language. In other words, unlike English, each of its sounds corresponds to a letter. This means that all words are pronounced as they are spelled.
How to use the Italian alphabet in pronunciation
Having said that, it will be enough to learn the sound of each letter to be able – with a lot of practice – to take on the reading and writing of the language.
Letter – Name of the letter in Italian – Pronunciation:
- A – a – aah
- B – bi – bee
- C – ce – chee
- D – de – dee
- E – e – eh
- F – effe – ehf fee
- G – gi – gee
- H – acca – ahk kah
- I – i – ee
- L – elle – ehl leh
- M – emme – ehm meh
- N – enne – ehn neh
- O – o – oh
- P – pi – pee
- Q – qu – koo
- R – erre – ehr reh
- S – esse – ehs seh
- T – ti – tee
- U – u – ooh
- V – vi – vee
- Z – zeta – dze ta
The importance of vowels in knowing how to use the Italian alphabet
The vowels are very important to know how to use the Italian alphabet. In fact, almost every word in the language ends in a vowel:
Word in Italian – Translation – Pronunciation:
- Nuvola – Cloud – Nu vo la
- Aria – Air – A ri a
- Azurro – Azulado – A tzu ro
Which letters of the Italian alphabet have a tilde?
Unlike in languages such as French, where the tilde changes the pronunciation of a letter, in Italian, the tilde does not change the sound, but the intonation of the whole word.
In Italian, accents are written over the vowels a-e-i-o-u, and serve to explain the pronunciation of the word from the point of view of intonation.
The vowels a-i-o-o-u can only have grave accents, as in the case of libertà. On the other hand, the vowel e can have either a grave(è) or an acute(é) accent.
What you should know about consonants
About consonants in Italian, you should know that when they are doubled, the sound becomes longer than normal. For example, papa (daddy) is pronounced papa, and pappa (baby food), which has two times the letter p is pronounced pah-pah.
Rules on how to use the Italian alphabet
Let’s now look at several Italian pronunciation rules whose compliance will allow you to perform the language in an easier way.
The c and g rule
When the next vowel after the c is a-o-u, it is pronounced with a sound similar to carro; and in the same case, the g is pronounced as golf.
- House – House
- Credere – Believe
- Gatti – Cat
In contrast, when the next vowel is i-e, the c is pronounced as ch and the g is pronounced as j in the English name Jack.
- Cesare – Caesar
- People – People
In the latter case, if we want the c to have a strong sound, we add an h to it:
The same is true for g:
The letter h is silent. That is, it is never pronounced at the beginning of a word. But after c and g, it has the function we have just shown.
The s and z rule
The s is almost always pronounced like the English word soul. But it sounds like a z when it goes between two vowels.
- House – Cah zah
In the case of z, it is pronounced as tz when it appears double in a word:
- Piazza – Square
- Pizza – Pizza
Where to study Italian?
You can study Italian with Lingua Language Center from the comfort of your home or office, or from our locations in the state of Florida, USA.
In both modalities, we offer an effective and fun method that takes advantage of all the senses to transmit the language teaching effectively.
Italian is a language that is always growing due to its importance in different industries such as fashion, gastronomy, sports, and motoring. But also for its impact on culture and all the fine arts.